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we are stuck in the stalemate. pope benedict xvi prepares to leave the vatican and his departure is over an hour from now. we will have the latest on his emotional farewell and what happens next in picking his successor. then back at home, the day at the supreme court over a challenge to the voting rights act. two big city mayors from states that could be affected by any changes. >> good morning from birmingham, michigan. it's february 28th, 2013 and this is chuck todd. >> i think you are a spartans fan. i saw green. i hope i'm not wrong. the end of an era to the catholic church. unprecedented in modern times. we are counting down to a pope's retirement. the final hours as pontiff. he spent his last day meeting with cardinals and pledging unconditional obedience to his successor. the arch bishop of new york was in the room and described the meeting on the today show this morning. >> we catholics call him the holy father. the italians call him il papa. to see him fragile and having what i consider to be a remarkably humble and courageous decision, it was very moving and a tender m
. peter's square for pope benedict's final audience this morning, cheering and waving signs that read "thank you" in italian. anne thompson is live for us at the vatican. and anne, i know the pope gave a reason for why he's leaving. what did he share with the crowd? >> reporter: well, he told them, chuck, it was a very personal address during his final papal audience. usually those sermons are a lesson on religion, but he spoke quite eloquently about his eight years as pontiff and why he was stepping down. he said his eight years had been filled with joy and difficulty and he said at some times, he felt like the lord was sleeping during his eight years. he acknowledged, again, that the reason that he was stepping down was because of age. he fired back at his critics, as much as a pope will fire back, saying that, you know, the critics who said that the pope should not come down from the cross, he said, there are different ways to serve on the cross and that the life that he has chosen of prayer and meditation, that will begin thursday night, that is another way to serve the church. ag
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